It was a late summer evening in 1934. Clare Michaelson, a young Glencoe man, was going about his duties at Glencoe’s Pure Oil Station. Clare was an admirable person. He’d lived in Glencoe for 17 years — it was the place he called home, the place where he’d spent his childhood and grew to be a man. In 1934, he was 23 years old and a newlywed, having married a Glencoe girl named Elizabeth Hoffard.
The young couple lived in and looked to raise their family in the Glencoe area. With a good job, and many years ahead of them, the future seemed bright for the young couple. Then came that fateful evening on Aug. 18, 1934.
It was getting late. Michaelson was going about his duties, possibly thinking of locking up soon and heading home to his wife. At 7:30 p.m. Clare was in the station office when he heard footsteps. Two youths in overalls made their way to the office and stood in the doorway. Without speaking, they quickly turned around and exited the premises.
Michaelson went back to his work, but was interrupted again about an hour later when the same two reappeared at the station. They made their way to the office and stood in the doorway, blocking Clare from exiting the room. The two asked Clare to get them a road map. He obliged the request, but just as soon as he turned to retrieve a map, one of the youths pulled a gun and threatened Michaelson. He began to turn toward them, but just as he turned, the gun was fired, and a bullet struck him. It entered his right side and exited just two inches from his spine.
The two bolted from the station. They took no money or anything from the shelves as they hastily fled. They raced to a car parked near the courthouse and sped east along Highway 212.
Clare Michaelson was wounded. There was no witness to the shooting and nobody nearby to help. For 15 minutes, he remained still, unable to move. Finally, Michaelson was able to muster enough strength to pull himself toward the telephone and call for help.
Clare was rushed to the Dr. W. R Schmidt Hospital. The following morning, a physician performed surgery, attempting to remove the bullet from the wounded man. Unfortunately, he was unable to recover from his wounds, and Clare Michaelson was pronounced dead on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 1934. He was laid to rest at the S.S. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in front of a large crowd of mourners.
With Michaelson interred, the mystery of who shot him was at hand. Leads to the identity of the two youths were few if any. Local newspapers and law enforcement guessed that the shooting was a result of a botched attempt to rob the station. It was speculated that the teen who fire the gun did so out of nervousness, a reflective action when Michaelson turned toward them.
Their identities were never discovered, and the case remains a mystery.
— Brian Haines is the executive director of the McLeod County History Center, 380 School Road N.W., Hutchinson. Hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday, noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and by appointment. For more information, call 320-587-2109.